As the legal community flees Las Vegas, leaving another successful ILTACON and several hundred thousand dollars in bad decisions in their wake, two questions weigh upon my mind. Is there something broken about the way we talk about artificial intelligence, and why does the airport give a goddamn about my mixers?
Artificial intelligence is a sufficiently ominous sounding invention. It gets the Asimov-obsessed firm stakeholders all hot and bothered in a way that predictive coding never really could. But ultimately, discussions of artificial intelligence in the law break down to one of two flavors: vendors willing to tell you frankly that this technology requires carefully constructed processes, vigilant management, and meticulous attention to detail; and those who tell you its MAGIC! Seriously, just buy yourself some AI and your firm is set! Somehow, after years and years of AI talk in the legal profession, there are still people peddling the latter option. Haven't we all figured out what AI really is by now? Are there still clients out there falling for robotic nerve tonic?
Speaking of tonic, I ask the bartender for a vodka soda no use wasting the last minutes in this desert monument to excess sober. She tells me she can't serve those until 10:30. Is it really morning?
It's no secret that, for the sake of laughs, we will always compare AI to the Terminator movies. A cold, unfeeling strand of code ruthlessly burying associates. But ditch the glossy ad campaign and, in reality, these products aren't going to master a 100TB document review by osmosis. No, much like the T-800 these robots show up on the job naked and need to beat your biker bar full of associates to death before it can do its job properly.
Sure it will learn from your first-pass reviewers but what will it learn? Will it pick up all their bad habits? Will it learn the systemic oversight your client never passed along? Most importantly, will it learn to forget all these mistakes as soon as you uncover them or will vestigial f**k-ups keep infecting the process months after they get caught? AI may be brilliant, but if the processes that set it down its path lack detailed consistency, its going to end up throwing your firm out an airlock. Like the surgeon with a scalpel, lawyers who fail to understand that the profession is mastering the tool itself, will just chain themselves to expensive trinkets that do the client more harm than good.
When did a vodka soda become verboten this early in the morning at the Las Vegas Airport? Look, I get that some states have Blue laws, but generally Vegas isn't puritanical about the gross consumption of liquor. What's the deal with booze? She tells me before 10:30 she can only make Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers. Wait, so vodka is on the menu? Because these aren't premixed drinks.
This is all so confusing. Does Vegas really care about my mixers? Has Big Orange spread its tentacles from the Tropicana deep into this McCarran bar?
Not that there aren't still some musing about the fully automated lawyer a cognitive map of a present-day rainmaker that firms can license out to clients who want to plug the BoiesBot 3500 on their latest matter. Its not that the technology required to perfect this strategy is far off though it might be but raise your hand if you imagine a bar association will ever sign off on disrupting the profession like that. They are scared enough about raising bar cut-off scores to allow a handful more humans into the market. A practicing attorney firms can duplicate at zero marginal cost? Not likely to pass that muster any century soon.
Strong AI solutions are the future hell, strong AI solutions are the present but before you invest in anything, take measure of how the vendor sees its own product. The best are always a little leery of the phrase artificial intelligence. There is more enthusiasm for machine learning and other synonyms that don't carry the same baggage as AI. The key is looking for someone who can admit that their products power is all about your commitment to it as a client and how hard you will work to make it give its peak performance.
The guy next to me, a cybersecurity expert who I did say modeled his whole ethos upon The Dude if I didn't know he rocked that look long before Jeff Bridges, runs afoul of the same libation limitations when he asks for some champagne. She can only offer him a mimosa. Goddamned orange farmers hit us again! That's when something special happens. He tells the bartender to give him a mimosa, but put the orange juice on the side so he can control the mix. And that's how he got a glass of champagne.
Cybersecurity Dude hacked the bar AI!
Because anything as a service is only as powerful as its instructions. He recognized the flaw in the establishments process an instance of bad tagging that let the bartender miss something critical. That's how he found the key item the bartenders rules missed.
And that's how I, eventually, got my vodka soda.
Screw you, Tropicana.
Source: above the law